I have the contacts. I have (most) of the knowledge. I even have an outlet. Why can’t I write?
After meeting with my editor, Geoff Kelly, at Artvoice last Thursday, I left the office elated. I had my very first journalistic assignment. It was perfect! I was to write a 1,000 word feature on the upcoming Local Restaurant Week event in Western New York. I was even given unlimited access to the staff photographer. I had four days until dealine.
Food, restaurants and feature writing are the things I dream about. Like sugar plums dancing in my head, I spent the weekend picturing the the perfect heirloom tomato salad photograph that would grace my first printed article in a major publication. I worked on the headline while I was driving. I called several area chefs I knew to inquire as to their menu offerings. I interviewed the president of the New York State Restaurant Association. I scoured the Internet for information. I did all this by Friday. Boy, was I good!
And then it was Saturday.
My desk was covered in menus, notes and interviews. My laptop was on but my mind was not. All the headlines that I had considered seemed like a joke. I skipped the headline and moved onto the lead. Nothing. The nutgraph was elusive as well. Despite my research and excitment, I produced nothing.
Surly Sunday would be more productive.
I was reading old recipe books and watching food shows to find my muse. I was feeling sick to my stomach as Sunday night approached and I had still not managed to type a single word. Monday was the deadline. I could barely sleep. What if I couldn’t write? What if the idea was grand but the actual work was too much? My God, I have spent almost two years chasing a dream that may remain beyond my reach.
I think I can.
This morning I sat down and typed. Nothing was in order and some of it didn’t even look like English, but I was determined to write something. I started with the conclusion. I wrote a nutgraph that was way too long and still had a crappy headline. I got up to do the dishes. I came back and added more. I threw in some laundry and came back for more. It was starting to take shape. Then the headline came to me. Viola! I couldn’t stop typing. When I took a breath again I had well over 1,000 perfectly crafted words. They were beautiful and they were mine! They are now in the hands of my most merciful (I hope) editor and with any luck they will be in the hands of thousands of Western New Yorkers on Thursday.
I hope each article doesn’t produce such drama, but if I get to feel this way every time I send off one of my pieces, it would be worth it.
I always knew I could!